J.M. Coetzee – Age of iron

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There was a wonderful place, which seemed like a piece of Paradise: the country boasts both natural beauty and diverse landscapes, from fields of wild flowers, to forests, mountains, sand dunes and crystal clear waters. South Africa was and still is its name. White men transformed this natural paradise into something very near to the Hell, killing natives or destroying their lives. Why? Because of colonization taught them it was necessary, right. Whites are in charge, Blacks have just to obey: History has always told us this.

Supposing you are a retired teacher, your people are the Whites, the Afrikaners, those who had created the system called Apartheid. Supposing you are dying due to cancer and your only daughter has migrated to Usa (she can’t stand this normal situation called Apartheid). Supposing you are starting to reconsider your whole believes, life and mental structures which had controlled your life… but you do not have enough time… what can you do to change your things?

An unbelievable friendship can change people’s mind? How can prejudices rooted in ours mind? How can you stop wasting your time if it is not unlimited?

These and many others are the questions that inspired Elizabeth Curren for writing a letter to her daughter, trying to understand how people could hurt other people for a piece of earth or because the History had always been written by winners and winners had always remembered what they liked more.

J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003, wrote “Age of Iron” in 1990 while the Apartheid lasted till 1994. His novel was a critique and a denounce for a system which allowed crimes against humanity, four years before its end.

Often writers feel the urgency to interpret the big mistakes and horrors of their times and their novels must be read as a warning for all the people. This is a good reason not to stop reading!


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